#London Adventures… Art, Decorations, Curry and Beer…

Enjoyed a busy weekend which included a trip to London and a sunny and cold walk on Sunday. The decision was made. Go to London for a day trip, but what to do?

The website https://www.timeout.com/london is an excellent source of inspiration and I soon spotted an art exhibition that will interest us… Dali Duchamp at the Royal Academy of Arts.

After suffering the train journey which was expensive, late and crowded, a soup and sandwich had to be consumed in Pret. Ok, I’m well aware the skeptical could go on about a marketing ploy, but I love the way they care and don’t waste food at the end of the day. See the pics at the end of this post!

After relaxing with my warming soup and sandwich, we ventured forth to the exhibition which was very interesting and informative on a variety of art movements (Dada, Surrealism, Readymade, The Surrealist Object, Eroticism and Paranoiac-Critical Theory). My only complaint was that it only kept us quiet for about two hours and unlike other exhibitions you pay for, there weren’t any free exhibitions in the same facility. Never mind, it was a magnificent glimpse into the legendary Dali and included paintings, drawings, book illustrations, prints, sculpture, photographs and historical film. You can submerge yourself in their subversive work and satisfy your curiosity about Dali’s friendship with Duchamp.

Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp maintained a bond of mutual admiration despite having different artistic endeavours. Ultimately, it is clear, from this fascinating display of their work, that they shared absurdity and cynicism which subsequently led them to challenge conventional art. Duchamp’s legacy was often hailed as the father of conceptual art and his friendship with Dali, who was flamboyant and dramatic, puzzled Duchamp’s admirers. However, upon examining the juxtaposition of their work, you can see common ground because of their experimental and philosophical associations. Both are quite bizarre but absolutely fascinating. Highly recommended.

Afterwards, we wandered over the road towards Fortnum and Mason to gaze at the glorious, colourful window displays. Then, of course, I could not resist a look around the store. It was packed full of shoppers, mingling amongst the impressive Christmas decorations. Good grief, bit early, isn’t it? Not even December yet. They do this, in case you are wondering, because everybody shops in November now, to miss the crowds (hahaha). If you go up the magnificent staircase, you can visit the cook shop, ladies department and the posh men’s accessories too. Lots and lots of leather. The food hall is downstairs where you can by miniature bananas and other stupid things, normal people don’t want. The glamour and grandeur may be over the top, but it is London and amusing to visit.

Upon arrival at Kings Cross we popped in a pub called The Betjeman Arms for a quick glass of Beavertown IPA. Delicious! We sat outside overlooking the amazing arches of St Pancras. Yes, there was heating, thank goodness and it was a relief to sit down. Next time, we will go to London during the week. What was I thinking?

Next stop, was Kings Cross for the curry. Although not a big curry fan, I had heard about the restaurant, Dishoom, and wanted to visit. The restaurant at Kings Cross, was featured on Tricks of the Restaurant Trade, Channel 4, UK. We arrived at about 4.30 pm and it was packed. There was me thinking the place will be empty! Nobody eats curry at that time, right? Wrong!

It is based on:

“THE OLD IRANI CAFÉS of Bombay have almost all disappeared. Their faded elegance welcomed all: rich businessmen, sweaty taxi-wallas and courting couples. Fans turned slowly. Bentwood chairs were reflected in stained mirrors, next to sepia family portraits. Students had breakfast. Families dined. Lawyers read briefs. Writers found their characters.

Opened early last century by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, there were almost four hundred cafés at their peak in the 1960s. Now, fewer than thirty remain. Their loss is much mourned by Bombayites.”

So the food is traditional curry and encapsulates quality food without fuss. The service was excellent as the waitress skilfully guided us through the menu which was useful because it is quite different from your usual curry establishment. Again, I can recommend this immersive experience. Be warned though, it is very popular. As we left we passed a long queue outside! Everyone must have been freezing.

Overall, a great day out viewing superb art, shopping (although I didn’t buy anything), eating and drinking. Oh, the beer was good too! Dishoom IPA, oh yes.

 

 

Other photos of bits which I found interesting. Good intentions from Pret and art on a building (Kings Cross)…

 

Hearty Lunches

As a lot of people are trying to focus on health and fitness, I’ve devised some nutritious recipes which are healthy and filling…

Breakfast – Fruit and Nut Porridge

So you could have this for breakfast or even lunch. It is really filling and keeps you full until lunch time. Porridge, milk, protein powder (optional), peaches (any fruit) plus a sprinkle of nuts. Delicious. Also, you can make with half milk and half water to cut down on calories and it is surprising how little difference it makes to the taste. A tip is to soak the oats for at least five minutes before you cook. This makes the porridge creamy and substantial.

Simple Omelette

Fry some new potatoes or sweet potatoes and courgettes in a pan with a tiny splash of coconut oil and water. When cooked, throw in three beaten eggs, season and enjoy. This is a good, quick lunch and is incredibly filling. Eggs always fill me up.

Roast Veggie Couscous

Another quick, simple recipe. Roast some vegetables in the oven. Whatever you like. Courgettes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and olives are in this bowl of delight. Make loads of couscous by pouring in a bowl and add the boiling hot water. Mix until soft which takes about a minute or two. My goodness it is quick! Throw in the veggies, some herbs and a little spice if you wish and serve. When I had this at work I served it in an attractive bowl and got some envious looks and comments. Cheap, quick and easy to prepare. I usually box up for about three days.

Spinach Pasta

Another quick one! Boil your penne pasta, cook some spinach and mushrooms. Make the dressing of olive oil, lemon, pepper and herbs and mix all together. I usually box up for about three days and pop in the fridge.

Hope you like my simple recipes which can be prepared in a matter of minutes.

 

Being a foody and losing weight… Tips

Well, the plan is to develop new recipes which fill  up the stomach without getting fat. Yes, the scales in the gym, record my fat content. Oh joy! No starving myself at the last minute, then.

At this time of year, it is easy to over eat and odd how simple it is to eat what you enjoy even though you feel so much better when you eat healthily and can fit into your clothes. Who doesn’t feel so tired when they eat well?

The plan is to consume more couscous, beans. sweet potatoes, swede, carrots with copious amounts of tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and eggs. Eggs are so filling. Porridge is great for breakfast too. A few nuts are ok for a snack. 

My aim is to eat well, but similar to how I normally eat. Just not quite so much beer! Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables which will fill me up, so plenty of fibre and filling nutrients.

Extras like bread and wine will have to be eradicated or at least reduced, which is really hard. Portions need to be controlled and recorded if one can be bothered. Apparently, we are all eating far more than twenty years ago. Portion sizes in restaurants and ready meals have risen exponentially.

“Whether you’re eating at home or in a restaurant, your meal should include a mix of non-starchy veggies (like broccoli, spinach or courgette), lean protein (like chicken, fish, beans or lean red meat), complex carbohydrates (like whole grains, sweet potato or wholewheat pasta) and healthy fat (like olive oil, avocado or nuts).”

Read: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/how-to-eat-healthy-at-a-restaurant#ixzz4z3xE5A31

Ok, you may think, this is a bit boring but actually having these foods on your plate, often provides an interesting meal. For example, sea bass with fresh herbs, mushroom/onion, etc., tomato sauce is delicious rather than a calorie laden creamy, but bland sauce. Often, when I go for a so called healthier option, in a restaurant, I end up really enjoying it and do not feel like a blown up balloon afterwards! Recently, I eat a so called Hong Kong chicken meal with rice and salad. It was rubbish. I’m sure the sauce was ketchup with a bit of vinegar in it. Yuk! The rice was good though with prawns and peas. But it all felt rather insipid and crappy. Sometimes you feel places have not moved with the times and their choices.

Another top tip when cooking at home, is, cook enough to last for two days which saves time too. Today’s shepherd’s pie, will last for two days and will be a filling meal with lots of veggies.

To sum up, try to vary your food. Potatoes, pasta, rice or cous cous with a variety of veggies are all tasty if you add some herbs/spices. If you have some of the dried things in your pantry, you don’t have to think about it too much! Meals with pasta/rice are quick to prepare. Just throw together some ingredients into a pan (mushrooms, peppers, onion, chicken, fish, broccoli) with tomato puree (and even a splash of wine or a tiny bit of cream cheese) and it makes a super, delicious meal. Simple, quick and cheap.

Porridge is great for breakfast with some nuts and fruit. Eggs are filling and good for snacks as are nuts too. Make enough for two (or more days). I’ve been known to cook three casseroles, at a time. All were quick and cheap to prepare. See previous blog: Three Day Stews

Good luck everyone. It is not easy, especially when it is so cold and dark but it is worth the effort and doesn’t take much time.

Many Life Changes…

A lot has happened over the last few weeks, relating to work and fitness. I’m about to leave my current job, mainly, because I’ve lost some of my passion for social media and require a change with some new challenges. My only regret is that I wasn’t proactive earlier because I’ve felt this way for a few months. Things change, and you need to change with them. There are opportunities out there! Do you ever feel like this?

Also this month, I’ve decided to join a class aimed at gaining fitness and losing weight. Many people seem to have gone off the fitness trail and I’m one of them! A class meeting is being held twice a week, with a weigh in once a week. My start has been slow due to a weak ankle and now a bad back. Injuries are unusual for me, because I train to avoid them. So frustrating.

Because of all of the recent changes above, I will be writing some blogs about diet, fitness and well being. I am not an expert, but like to read articles about health/fitness, run (shuffle), exercise and write about my experiences. Also, I’m very normal and prone to overeating and drinking one or two beers. So you can take my ideas with a pinch of salt or try them out and read any attached links if you wish.

So what is the plan? I’m actually going to exercise most days, but start slowly. To be honest, food intake is more important because I’ve lost the plot lately. Hasn’t everyone? My calorie intake will be about 1200 calories with the occasional cheat meal. All food will be recorded. Luckily, healthy food attracts me even more than junk food. Cooking from scratch, whatever that means, comes naturally to me. Also, recently, I’ve devised some recipes which will fill me up,hopefully, without making me fat. (Blog post coming up.)

Although I run occasionally, I will do less of this and focus more on strength training and attend the weight loss class twice a week. Walking is also a favourite of mine, so I’ll do more prancing about the countryside with the borrowed dog, Oscar.

Really enjoyed the first weight loss class. Blaring music and lots of movement, but several exercise options given, in case you aren’t fully fit. Great stuff.

So the plan is..

  • Focus on new opportunities (there is a plan!)
  • Aim to become healthier
  • More outside activities
  • New hobbies
  • Read about health, fitness, etc.

Are you going to join me? Let’s hope it won’t be too arduous. 😏

 

 

A day out in #Lewes

This beautiful town isn’t particularly near to where I live, but the journey is well worth it. Lewes has a long winding medieval street running through the centre, with a wonderful array of shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, pubs and a nearby castle.

It is easy to feel the essence of a bygone time as the buildings are beautiful and fascinating to view. The 15th century book shop is quite quirky along with the castle (around 1066) built by William de Warenne. We wandered up to this by climbing up the hill and you are then rewarded with spectacular views.

We went around some of the galleries and pondered over the prices of the pieces on display and decided, on this occasion, that we didn’t like them that much! Maybe I should go back to painting myself.

We stopped for a much needed lunch at Robsons of Lewes. A cafe with many tables and a small, pretty garden. I enjoyed a wonderful grilled halloumi and avocado salad. Then further into town we looked across the River Ouse and frequented the Harvey’s Brewery shop. This has a good selection of not only beers, but many other drinks too! So we bought a fridge :/ magnet. Of course, you can book a tour around the brewery and enjoy a drop of ale afterwards.

The town walk makes a day out if you intersperse the wanderings with a beer, a cup of tea, meal and there are many contemporary art galleries and historic & special interest sites to saunter round. Can highly recommend.

The Ivy, Tower Bridge – Part 2

After the blogging event, we jumped on the Tube and went to The Ivy, London Bridge. It is near the station and the bridge so easy to find. The restaurant has a large glass window front with a magnificent view of London Bridge. We crossed the bridge to reach the restaurant and was able to take some wonderful night time views.

When we located the place we had trouble finding the entrance as you have to walk around the corner to actually find it. We arrived and was taken to our table. A lovely place which was exceedingly busy with lots of people having animated conversations about life and enjoying the delicious food.  We were asked if we would like still or sparkling water and my daughter firmly said ‘tap please’. I love the way she doesn’t worry about what people think, although nor do I nowadays.

The staff were friendly and told us all about the menu, but we couldn’t hear because it was soooo noisy. Unfortunately, this does seem to be a problem, but I could see that the problem would not last and many people were finishing their meals and had come from work so would probably depart which is, exactly what happened.

I had duck pate to start, lamb for my main course and then this most amazing chocolate bomb. I decided to have a beer because I had to drive home from the station, in a few hours time. Unfortunately, the glass was completely inappropriate for a female as it was large with a handle and the rime was about half an inch thick. I tweeted them about it, but was positive apart from complaining about the glass. The food and service were superb. The chocolate bomb was incredible and the highlight of the meal.  The waiter poured hot caramel sauce over the smooth mound and it all collapsed into a kaleidoscope of beauty and gorgeousness.  Oh, the  decadence of it! Yum! We are still dreaming about it. Quite sublime.

Can recommend the experience and it wasn’t too pricey. Not really. It is what life is all about really, isn’t it?

#Blogging Course and The Ivy, Tower Bridge, #London – Part 1 (Blogging)

I recently went on a blogging course in Whitehall, London. Christine and I, agreed to meet on the train and travel together. The trains were chaotic and we had to keep changing the route but eventually took the next one to London Bridge and then to Whitehall via the London Underground. We arrived, exhausted but dived into the cloakroom, knowing full well this would tip us over the lateness line. I absolutely hate being late, but we were not the only ones, due to the transport problems.

Luckily, the lecturer was just starting and we plonked ourselves down and listened. As usual, with these things, they don’t give much away, but the content (below) did remind me of what I should do in order to be a tenacious blogger. I’ve listed the key features at the end of this blog, as they may help remind others what you need to do to improve your blog.

I found this information useful, but without much substance. On the plus side, the tips I liked helped refresh my mind about what I need to do to improve my blog. My main wish is to interest people and maintain their interest. The main reason for blogging is because I love writing and researching stuff. On this basis, I will continue, and it doesn’t hurt to remind oneself what needs to be done.

I’ve decided to have another look at blog themes, although will keep the rolling blog format. I need a strategy for social media as I want people to read my blog. I find reading other blogs, interesting too, so will keep an eye out for fascinating blogs to read and follow. As far as improving my skills, I am taking a photography course and may decide to do a Photoshop course too. I already use CANVA.

Another thing I plan to do is look at old blog posts and do some updates. I like the ‘break a story’ idea as I get out and about so could do more of this so long as it will interest people and remain relevant.

Anyway, after this event, we rushed back to London Bridge for our delicious meal in The Ivy. To be continued…

 

Blogging Course (Key Points)

Checking up

Look at your blog and check colours, fonts, style and branding. Compare to others. Have a responsive layout. Plugins, links, platform?
Have a Media Kit (with case studies, traffic, engagements) – This is when you have lots of traffic!
Skill Up – Html, editing (photo shop), etc.

Branding

Is the theme consistent with your brand? Imagery/photos (you could be known for your pink, filtered photos). Know your style. Have a dialogue with followers. Go to networking events.

Enhancing

How are you doing as a writer? Tone/style…is it consistent? Visuals – Are they good enough. Photos should be very good. Text over pictures – CANVA is good for this. Search engines love videos. User experience – check for broken links, updating blog posts and make sure dates are relevant. No popups (although some disagree with this advice).

Promoting

Traffic
Networking and ask peers to share (something that I won’t do). Meetups, trade shows and FB groups. I haven’t found FB groups all that good. Collaborations, link ups and identify similar blogs.

Subscriptions, giveaways, competitions, list posts and check your headlines. Be controversial (finally found something I’m good at).
Break a story (e.g. review a new restaurant/exhibition).
Evoke an emotional response. Be personal and find new content/ themes.

Social Media
Have a strategy and be methodical. Post three times a day (Twitter), once on FB, once on Instagram but keep it the same and scheduled. Engage others through content, peers and brands you like. Use news stories that are relevant to what blog about. I often use studies to back up what I am blogging about. Network with journalists. Pitch stories to local newspapers.
If you write about a product encourage the business to retweet (promote) what you have written.

Monetising

Advertising with Google Adsense. Free to sign up and put the code on the blog. Affiliate marketing. Instagram is good with links.(This is not applicable to me at present.)
Sponsored posts – Someone pays you to write a post, newsletter or podcast. In other words, go freelance with your writing/photography. If you are an expert on something, then write an ebook/course.

Effectiveness

Check to see how effective you are with Google analytics, FB insights, Twitter insights, reader surveys, etc.